Tuesday, July 31, 2018

How to fix kids' wellies

This post was originally published on my Crud Dad blog on 26th December 2017

Kids' wellies are crap.  Mostly.

Kids' wellies are almost always total crap.  In fact the only saving grace of kids' wellies is that while they are crap, they are usually cheap.  As adults we can decide to spend a small fortune on a decent pair of wellies because there's every chance we'll get many years use out of them.  If we're particularly lucky, or go outside particularly infrequently then we may even be able to wear the same pair of wellies for several decades.

Kids grow so fast there's little chance of then getting more than a few months wear out of any footwear, let alone wellies.  This could be the reason why it's not easy to buy good wellington boots for children.  Maybe the market (us!) doesn't demand high quality wellies because we know what a short window of opportunity there is to get as much use out of them as possible.  But the same could be said for school shoes, and yet we're prepared to spend more on school shoes than we are on our own shoes.  But at least school shoes are mostly fit for purpose.  Cheap kids wellies are not.

How do kids wreck their wellies?

For once I don't think children are wholly to blame for wrecking their wellies.  The truth is that the wellies just aren't made very well.  Every pair of child-size wellington boots that has come through this household has been cheaply made.  The emphasis appears to be on appearance over function.

If you have a daughter than you have probably already bought (and chucked out) several pairs of wellies that are adorned with bright images of flowers, fairies or (shudder) bloody Frozen characters.  If you have a son then there's a good chance that several of the pairs of wellies your child has knackered had a character like Spiderman printed on them.

I get the association on girls wellies - flowers and fairies are known to live in environments sympathetic to the wearing of wellies.  The characters in Frozen could probably have benefitted from a decent pair of wellies for larking about in the snow.

The choice of characters chosen for the designs on boy's wellies seems to have only a gossamer thin association with the wearing of wellington boots.  For example, I don't recall ever seeing Spiderman swinging like a goodun through the skyscrapers of New York with a pair of wellies on.  Probably because they'd fly off his feet, in the same way that kids' wellies do when faced with the simple task of actually protecting your offspring's feet from mud.

Any parent, grandparent or semi-tolerant aunt or uncle knows that if your charge goes anywhere near mud then they will definitely lose their wellies at some point.  The remarkable aspect of this is that the child rarely seems to notice that they have lost at least one welly and continues walking, planting the foot no longer protected by a welly straight into the nearest muddy puddle or dog shit. Without. Fail.

The Wellington boot paradox
I have never quite figured out why the wellies we buy for our kids are so damned short.  My own wellington boots almost reach my knees.  The tall wellies adults wear are perfect for standing in deep puddles without risking ingress of murky water.  The fact is that even when wearing wellies I'm unlikely to actually test them to the point of a breach.

Most kids' wellies only seem to reach halfway up the little darlings' shins.  Naturally this total lack of lower leg integrity invites, neigh begs the child to stand in water much deeper than the height of the welly allows for.  What results is an phenomena I call the 'Wellington boot paradox'.  As soon as your child's boots are full of water you realise that wellies are much better at keeping water in than they are at keeping water out.

Yes, but how do kids wreck their wellies?

On a purely mechanical level kids' wellies get trashed because they are made of a low grade PVC that tears when flexed.  I wear Grubbs Wellies, these are made of a heavy rubber-like material on the bottom / foot section and waterproof neoprene from the ankle upwards.  So they flex really well.  Because kids' wellies are made of crappy PVC they flex at the ankle and bridge of the foot.  Repeated flexing of the PVC, from something as simple as walking, weakens the PVC and it rips.  The rip is often on the lower section of the boot, ensuring that your child will get soggy socks if they perambulate on anything as wet as slightly dewy grass.  Spending time with a child who has cold, wet socks is a miserable experience.  Especially for the adults.

How to fix kid's wellies - finally!
Despite the fact kids grow out of footwear incredibly quickly it's still worth repairing crappy wellies.  Fortunately the holes and tears in wellies are very easy to fix, and all you need is a puncture repair kit.  You can find puncture repair kids for a pittance on Amazon or at a cycling shop.  But you'll do just as well with puncture repair kit from one of the many pound shops that fill the high street of your nearest metropolis.  Quality doesn't appear to be an issue here.  I carried out the repair in the photos below using a puncture repair kit found in the back of my in-laws' garage.  This kit was definitely older than my daughter, and there's every chance it's older than me.

It's crucial that the area on the boot you're repairing is really clean before making the repair.  If there's any trace of mud, grime, dog shit or nuclear waste then your patch won't adhere properly.  It's also worth pushing against the tear from the inside with a finger to make sure there's no mud / dog poo trapped actually in the tear.

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Force open the tear from the inside to make sure it's properly clean
Make sure the area you will apply the puncture repair patch is nice and clean. Look at that tear, it hasn't even got the decency to be in the shape of a smile.
 
It doesn't matter how cheap or old the puncture repair kit is. I'm surprised this bike even has brakes.

The patch might not be pretty, but it's going to prevent a whole lot of moaning.
Yes, these wellies look cute, but they're CRAP! But at least they can now be worn again, giving my daughter another chance to fill them up with stagnant water.